Climber on seracs on the Matanuska Glacier during the annual MCA ice climbing festival.

Photo by Wayne Todd.

Snow travel school at the MCA's Basic Mountaineering School.

Photo by Brian Aho.

The Scandinavia Peaks Hut sits among the magnificent Scandinavian peaks of the Matanuska Glacier area.

Photo by Wayne Todd.

The Matanuska Glacier as viewed from Mt. Wickersham.

Photo by Wayne Todd.

MCA Ice Climbing Festival

The 2015 MCA Ice Climbing Festival

Friday, September 25th to Sunday, September 27th

General Info: The MCA Ice Festival is a two day instructional weekend. Instruction is catered to participants' abilities and curriculum includes instruction in modern ice climbing techniques, associated safety systems and familiarization of equipment.  Instructors are volunteers within the Mountaineering Club of Alaska.  All participants, instructors and event volunteers camp out together off the glacier, to maximize instruction time and encourage socializing in the evening.

ALL REGISTERED PARTICIPANTS MUST ATTEND THE MANDATORY PARTICIPANT MEETING - Thursday, September 24th at 7pm at the Old Pioneer School House (3rd Avenue and Eagle Street). Please bring your harness, climbing boots and crampons to this meeting for inspection.

The Ice Festival welcomes all experience levels, novice included. Participants must be a current MCA member and 16 years of age or older (if a minor you will be required to have a guardian appointed for the event as well as complete all required paperwork).

Participants are organized into groups according to experience (based on a survey completed during the registration process) and assigned two instructors for the weekend. Instructor/Student ratios are usually, 1:4.  The group levels are generally categorized as follows:

  • Novice (no experience)
  • Beginner (has climbed ice once or twice)
  • Advanced Beginner (has climbed ice 6+ times)
  • Intermediate (has climbed ice 10+ times)
  • Advanced (climbs ice regularly and is looking to improve skills)

Participant Packet: Please review the "Participant Packet" in the downloads section below for a more complete description of the event, including logistical information, schedules and an equipment list.

Schedule:  The MCA Ice Climbing Festival will be held: Friday, September 25th thru Sunday, September 27th. Instruction is from 9am-5pm Saturday and 9am-4pm Sunday.  Many participants drive up Friday evening since the event is 101 driving miles from Anchorage (2 hrs. driving time) and the event starts early Saturday morning.

Mandatory Pre-Event Meeting/Gear Inspection: All registered participants are required to attend a mandatory meeting at the Old Pioneer Schoolhouse (3rd Avenue and Eagle Street) on Thursday, September 24th at 7pm. Participants are required to bring their harness, boots and crampons to this meeting for inspection as well as all required paperwork (if not already submitted). NO LATE REGISTRATION AVAILABLE AT THIS MEETING!

Ice Climbing Equipment: The MCA provides ropes, anchors and technical ice climbing tools (tools are less than 60cm in length and used for climbing steep ice-different than a mountaineering axe). Participants are required to equip themselves with a working harness, helmet, climbing specific boots, crampons and a mountaineering axe. Participants needing equipment should expect to rent from Alaska Mountaineering and Hiking (907-272-1811) or the outdoor program at Alaska Pacific University (907-564-8614). Both AMH and APU rent ice climbing equipment (i.e climbing boots, crampons, helmets and mountaineering axes).  No one in town rents harnesses so you will need to borrow or buy one for the event.  Current MCA members get a 10% discount on all climbing equipment purchases at Alaska Mountaineering & Hiking with proof of current MCA membership.  Alaska Mountaineering & Hiking (AMH) has taken advanced reservations for the MCA Ice Fest event in the past and they usually only charge you the weekend rental rate and you are usually able to pick up your rental equipment for no additional charges and prior to the mandatory meeting/equipment inspection.  Alaska Pacific University, Outdoor Programs also rents climbing equipment although they do not take advanced reservations.  The MCA has limited equipment available for use (helmets, crampons and mountaineering axes), for no charge to current MCA members and event participants.  Please contact the Training Coordinator ASAP at if you require MCA equipment to borrow and be specific as to what you require, i.e. mountaineering axe, helmet, etc. 



If you have any questions, please contact Ice Fest Coordinator, Jayme Mack at 907-382-0212 or



(60 KB)
Ice Fest Participant Packet 2015

NOTE: Many of the documents are in PDF format and require Adobe Acrobat Reader for viewing. Acrobat Reader software may be downloaded for free from Adobe Systems, Inc.

Cory Hinds shows fine climbing form. Photo © Wayne Todd Robert Kaye swings a tool and gesticulates. Photo © Wayne Todd Climbers enjoy the ice and sun on the Matanuska Glacier. Photo © Wayne Todd A climber picks his way up a steep glacier wall.  Photo © Wayne Todd
Cory Hinds works on a difficult overhang. Photo © Wayne Todd Climbers disperse across the face of Matanuska Glacier. Photo © Wayne Todd Stan Olsen demonstrates climbing technique. Photo © Wayne Todd Tom Choate (the Goat) cuts his birthday cake with an ice tool. The ice tool was removed from the table with difficulty.  Photo © Wayne Todd
A climber ascends an ice arete. Photo © Wayne Todd So many ice aretes to climb.  Photo © Wayne Todd A climber ascends a steep wall as a belay keeps him safe on the Matanuska Glacier.  Photo © Wayne Todd A climber ascends toward the mottled sun. Photo © Wayne Todd

© 2016 Mountaineering Club of Alaska     Box 243561,  Anchorage, AK 99524-3561     Contact Us

Many thanks to: Wayne Todd, Tim Silvers, Ross Noffsinger, Steve Gruhn, Carrie Wang, Billy Finley and many others who provided information, ideas and photos. And thanks to Willy Hersman who created, managed and hosted the first MCA website, without which this site's development would have been so much more difficult. Current website donated by Couloir Graphics.